This blog post has been updated on January 15, 2021.
Never forget that transportation is facing a driver problem, not a driver shortage. You’re on the wrong side of supply and demand. You’re turning down loads, but the freight always gets picked up by someone. There’s not a driver shortage until there’s no gas at the pump, grocery store shelves are empty, and restaurants are running out of ingredients.
The growth of your business depends on your ability to find and retain the next generation of drivers. However, don't think you're special. The constant struggle to find quality employees is not limited to transportation. In fact, many blue collar industries are ahead of transportation when it comes to creative ideas to attract and retain employees.
It’s time to catch-up to the times and hire your fleet of all-stars.
Learn from Other Industries
Consider this article from The Wall Street Journal. Blue collar jobs of all kinds are facing the same types of issues as transportation. Many areas experiencing economic rebounds need skilled workers and can’t get them to come back to their plant. Rightfully so, as there is fear about a repeat of the mass job losses of the 1970s and 1980s in factories and plants. The track record of stability is lacking. Manufacturers in some places know they have an uphill battle.
In order to attract and retain employees, these companies have been creative in a way that the transportation industry can learn from. Some examples include:
- increased bonuses
- offered assistance with student loan repayment
- helping workers buy houses in the form of grants
- personally communicating with employees more frequently
And so far, in many cases, these methods appear to be working. No driver would expect you to buy them a house to work for you. But that’s the point! That’s a unique offering that no one else is doing.
Everyone Offers the Same Job
Transportation needs to wake up and change it’s approach to recruiting new drivers. It’s not enough to say you offer great pay and more home time anymore. Everybody offers those benefits, so there’s nothing unique about that offering.
Take a look at one of your driver recruiting ads. If you replace your logo with your competitor’s logo, what would still apply? If you say the same thing as all your competitors, why would a driver ever pick up the phone to call you?
Getting Creative to Solve Your Driver Problem
Depending on the freight or people you move, you’re spending about 30% of revenue on drivers. Get specific and calculate total wages and benefits on a trailing 12 month basis. This will give you a clear number of what you’re already spending. How could you repackage that amount? Get crazy and stand out with some ideas like:
- make car payments
- make house payments
- make student loan payments
- provide salaries, not cents per mile
- provide laundry services at home
- provide schedules that allow for travel: 2 weeks on, 1 week off
- provide tickets to ball games to be used only by drivers
The driver problem isn’t going away. Finding solutions will require new thinking. You will need to try some new things to get different results. Try taking an example from other skilled industries and focus on what you have to offer. You may find that there are ways to make driving at your company more attractive in a way that will be a win for both you and the driver long-term.